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E3 Look Forward

Laura Genender Posted:
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Auto Assault recently hit stores all over North America

Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking to Scott Brown, President of NetDevil, about the newly released Auto Assault. Auto Assault, produced by NCSoft, enjoyed a fairly uneventful and bug-free launch, and I had plenty of questions for Brown.

First of all, Brown gave MMORPG.com some exclusive information about plans fo the game engine. The Auto Assault team is currently working with Aegia on making even more over the top explosions and physics available to users with physics cards. More explosions, who could turn that down?

Moving on to launch. I wanted to know the juicy gossip, of course, and asked Brown if there were any problems with major exploits during launch. Luckily for NetDevil, though, there were only a few bugs and they were fixed fairly quickly. For example, stealth-type characters could stealth all the way into ground zero and get major EXP there. There were also stealth problems in PvP, where scout-types would get one kill then stealth themselves. This bug was caught quickly, though, and is now fixed.

I next asked Brown what he thought were the biggest problems with the game as it stands. First off, Brown told me that one of their biggest problems is trying to label the game. “Action RPGs” are so new that no one really knows what they are or how to play them. Still, Brown thinks that Action-RPGs are the wave of the future, and dealing with the infant genre will be well worth it.

Second, Brown told me that they want to work on adding a more social aspect to Auto Assault. Currently, NetDevil did such a good job of making Auto Assault a solo-friendly game that it might as well be a single player. While some players do hunt with convoys, there was really very little social interaction at launch. Brown and team, though, are already hard at work on correcting this; they already added a right-click interact menu to other players, and plan to add race channels, mail, and an auction house.

For future Auto Assault content, the plans are still fuzzy and undecided. Updates will certainly be available for free, but Brown was not certain whether expansions would be free to download or available in stores. Either way, the Auto Assault team is currently focused on live support – addressing current bugs, issues, and gaps that need filling in – rather than starting a hustle for new content.

I asked Brown about Auto Assault tournaments, and whether he thought it would become a professional PvP game. The idea of professional RPG players is still in its infancy, with only Guild Wars, another NCSoft title, paving the way. Brown said that he still wasn’t sure, but that it’s a possibility. To help promote the popularity of tournaments, an announcement system now notifies players when a tourney is coming up and, afterwards, who won.

Brown said that players now also earn EXP in PvP. Coupled with Auto Assault’s lack of death penalty, I asked Brown if he thought the system could be gamed. He admitted that it could, but in reality, it would really be much faster and easier to just go kill the AI.

I was also curious how customer support was going for Auto Assault. Brown said that the game is not very CS intensive, and one really unique way that they are using it is that, every day, the CS team compiles a daily report for the devs. The Developers are using this list to figure out what needs more work and what they should focus their time on.

One exciting thing for the dev team is watching the emergence of specialized guilds. Some guilds are concentrating on specialized subjects, such as PvP, roleplay, or crafting. Brown said that he feels especially sorry about not having the auction house up and ready for the crafting guilds.

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Laura Genender